Athletic Edge Through Air - Ranking the Top Respiratory Techniques for Enhanced Athletic Performance

Garage Gym Athlete
Athletic Edge Through Air - Ranking the Top Respiratory Techniques for Enhanced Athletic Performance

Hey, Athletes! Athletic Edge Through Air - Ranking the Top Respiratory Techniques for Enhanced Athletic Performance  Episode of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

Athletic Edge Through Air - Ranking the Top Respiratory Techniques for Enhanced Athletic Performance


  • Jerred discusses breathing
  • The guys go through a study that discussed different factors concerning breathing during exercise
  • Jerred gives his on tips and tricks for breathing!
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper…

If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here is a link to the study for you: 

Garage Gym Athlete Workout of the Week 

Don't forget to watch today's podcast!

Thanks for listening to the podcast, and if you have any questions be sure to add it to the comments below!

To becoming better!

- Jerred

Podcast Transcript

Jerred: How can we improve your breathing? Because if we improve your breathing Your performance absolutely will increase. It will get better. If you can breathe better, you will perform better. That is a statement of fact. But what exactly should you be doing to improve this? Should you just be exercising?

Should you be putting a nasal strip on your nose to dilate your nasal passages so you can get more oxygen in? Should you only be doing nasal breathing? Or are there specific techniques or supplements that you should be implementing? We're going to dive into all of that and see what the latest science says on improving your breathing for better athletic performance.

This is the Garage Gym Athlete Podcast, and we're here to build autonomous athletes and put phenomenal programming into every garage, basement, and spare bedroom out there. I'm Jared Moon, and I'm with Joe Courtney. We are strengthening your breathing. and conditioning coaches who have turned over 20, 000 people into garage gym athletes over the last decade.

And we're here to reduce the information overload that exists in the health and fitness industry today. We're going to do that by covering relevant science and give actionable takeaways, not only from the data, but from our years of experience. So let's dive in.

So the name of the study I am covering today is called distinguishing things. Science from pseudoscience and commercial respiratory interventions and evidence based guide for health and exercise professionals. This study was published at the beginning of 2023 in February specifically, and this is a review paper.

So what they do in these papers is they. Okay. In this specific case, they list all the possible interventions to improve your breathing for athletic performance and health and all that. And then they look at all the literature that they can find. And they just come up with a paper to give you the best idea of maybe a direction you should go, but they let you know if you should research it more, or if something's pretty much proven and you should just go ahead and start implementing it.

Very interesting. I'm very interested in this topic because I. Really fell early on that breathing was a huge limiting factor for me. I would always feel like I had more in the tank when it came to, Hey, my muscles aren't really burning. I don't have any real reason to slow down other than my breathing is getting out of whack, like it's not keeping up with.

The rest of me always felt like my lungs are a limiting factor, and I've done a lot of breath work for a long time. And I go from these periods of doing it, not doing it, sometimes it feels helpful, sometimes it doesn't. And also being confused about the science. I don't know if it's something that I should even be doing.

And a lot of the reasons I did it weren't even just athletic based. There's a lot of scientific research on how it can help you manage stress and relieve anxiety. And I'm not going to talk about that side of it as much today on the breath work stuff. So I'm not really talking about This from a meditative state or the reduction of anxiety.

I am specifically talking about performance. So increasing your performance through breath work. And that's what this paper. is more of what it covered. So let's dive in because there's a good amount to go over and since they listed out so much, and this is a free paper, we'll put it in our in the show notes.

So if you go to garagegymathlete. com, go to the blog, we always have our show notes there. Definitely go check that out because then you can see and read through these yourself because each one has a lengthy paragraph, lots of research that you could click out to and then like a conclusion for each section.

I'm just going to go through the different respiratory interventions that they had. And what I'm going to do specifically is just talk about what the intervention is and what the efficacy is for an athlete. So trying to look at it through our lens as garage gym athletes, right? So that's what I'm going to be doing.

But if you have any specific things that you want to dive in further, absolutely go check out this paper. I think it'd be worth your time. So I'll be covering, it looks like seven different areas here. And I'm going to go from least effective to most effective in this podcast, from the paper. This isn't my personal opinion.

So let's dive into it. The first one, and this is least effective, are nasal dilators. So these are devices that are designed to prevent nasal wing collapse during inspiration, thereby increasing nostril Patency and they come in two types, external and internal. And so how they actually work, I'm sure you've seen these, they just physically hold open your nostrils.

So these are like the strips that you can put on somewhere like magnetic base. Some are just like a stiff strip. I'm sure you've seen these helps people sleep at night, those kinds of things. And it was rated as far as athletes, the least had the least efficacy. So it may improve subjective feelings of nasal breathing, but no significant impact on exercise performance or cardio respiratory function in healthy athletes.

And that's why I want to distinguish that I'm doing this for athletes because they get into overall health recommendations to like things with helping COPD, things like that asthma. There are a lot of other things you could dive into and get from this paper, but I didn't want to go that deep. It's a very big paper, and so we'd be here for a long time, and I'd have to be like, oh, if you had asthma, or if you have COPD, or if you have, I'd have to go down so many asterisks and rabbit holes that it wouldn't be effective.

So again, this is just for athletes. So least effective for athletes seems to be nasal dilator. So you can probably put away those performance strips on your nose, probably not going to help that much. aCcording to the science. Now next, and this one hurts me, because I really feel like it's not true.

But as far as we're going from least effective to most effective, the second one on the list is nasal breathing. It's just a breathing technique. It involves inhaling and exhaling only through your nose. And it's believed that nasal breathing increases nitric oxide uptake, which can improve arterial oxygenation.

That's the why behind nasal breathing. And that's what I've always been told and I've heard. And it's not that it doesn't do those things. What this paper is looking at is very much evidence based stuff. So there's limited evidence. of significant benefits in exercise performance for healthy athletes, though it may have therapeutic benefits in specific cases.

So it's not saying that it doesn't work, there's just not a lot of science saying that this is for sure like a home run, especially if you're already a healthy athlete, it doesn't necessarily improve breathing through your mouth or improve your performance over breathing out of your mouth. Now, I don't know if that's In my own personal testing, I like nasal breathing, especially for Zone 2.

Makes me feel a little bit more calm, but at the same time, having tested both a Zone 2 run with my mouth open and just breathing through my nose, I don't notice a ton of difference in my actual performance in that acute setting. Running today with mouth, running tomorrow with nose, I haven't personally noticed something that big of a difference.

I was always intrigued with the increasing nitric oxide and all that other stuff that they say it does and so it's helpful. I think it can be helpful. I think it can calm that fight or flight response. But as far as proven scientific backing, Nasal Breathing is not high on our effective list. Now the next is So it's a method that emphasizes nasal breathing and controlled breath holding to reduce hyperventilation.

And how it works is it aims to increase carbon dioxide tolerance and improve respiratory efficiency. And for athletes, it's more beneficial for asthma management. Its effectiveness in enhancing athletic performance compared to other techniques is not clearly established. Now, all these types of breathing techniques.

I do think that there's some benefit, but again, it's not saying that these things are ineffective. It's just least effective as far as a proven has all the literature to back it up. That's what this study is saying. If I had to list these in order of what I thought would be most effective to least effective, this would not be my order.

So anyway, any kind of breathing technique, I think the box breathing would fit into this category. Box breathing is where you'd inhale for five, you'd hold for five, you'd breathe out for five, you'd hold for five, and you'd continue down that category. And you can do it in count of five, a count of three, a count of six, it doesn't really matter.

And I've seen a lot of benefit in doing box breathing. I've even added it. Before exercise and after exercise, and I even heard Dr. Andy Galpin talk about how doing box breathing post exercises post exercise really helps your body down, regulate and get ready and dive into that recovery process. So again, I think that it has some benefits outside of the performance aspect of your lungs functioning better, but I think that maybe it could help like on the recovery side.

Now, next on the list is dietary diet and respiratory health. And they were specifically looking at the influence of dietary components and they landed on vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, and probiotics for respiratory health. And it said that these nutrients are believed to have anti inflammatory effects that may influence lung function and respiratory health.

And that makes sense to me, so it's an indirect impact on athletic performance through improved respiratory health. And so this is number four on our list and we're only going to seven. So that one just seems to be pretty effective. Making sure that you're getting enough vitamin D, enough omega 3 fatty acids, and probiotics.

So if those are in your diet, either naturally or supplemented, seems like something that you might want to do, just reduce some inflammation and help your lung function and your overall respiratory health. and seems to be decent backing behind it. Now this one was very specific. It was systematized breathing strategies including pursed lip breathing.

Techniques like deep slow breathing, pursed lips breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing designed to improve breathing efficiency. So when I said box breathing, I don't really know if it fits in that number three category or here in the systematized breathing. But I do know if you are breathing with your diaphragm in and out, you're strengthening something and like you are becoming better that process.

So I definitely think that can help you. So these methods all aimed enhanced lung mechanics and manage respiratory symptoms. They might indirectly benefit athletes by improving lung function, particularly beneficial for those with respiratory conditions. So A lot of different systematized breathing strategies out there.

Box breathing could be one of them. You could download a number of apps. Breathwork is one that I have used over the years. Has all these different breathing exercises. So anytime where you're slowing down breathing from your typical cadence, you're using pursed lips or doing anything, making sure that you're really engaging your diaphragm and your breathing, all these seem to be pretty high in the efficacy for athletes and just helping your overall lung function.

Now, the sixth one was more of a psychological aspects of breathing. So slow breathing techniques, and so this is next to most effective. Now, these are breathing techniques that focus on slow and controlled breathing patterns. These methods are used to induce relaxation and have been shown to influence heart rate variability, indicating a connection with the autonomic nervous system.

Can be advantageous for athletes in managing stress, improving focus, and potentially enhancing performance indirectly. So that is what I was talking about with Andy Galpin talking about box breathing. So anything that's going to actually Lower your cortisol, your stress levels, put you in a better psychological state, help, lower some anxiety, all those kinds of things.

There's a definite connection with what's happening in your psychology to what's happening in your physiology, right? So you want to calm your mind, de stress, reduce anxiety. And you can do that through implementing a lot of slow breathing techniques. Again, anything that slows down. Your typical if you were to typically take 10 to 20 breaths per minute Just sitting here breathing if you can slow that down to five breaths a minute something like That typically means you slow like doing really slow inhales and exhales.

That could mean that you're holding Like the box breathing I was talking about could mean that you're not, it could just mean six seconds in six seconds out. If you do that's 12 seconds for one breath. So you're really slowing down your pattern there. And it does seem to connect that these specific slow breathing techniques, however you want to implement them do help in some degree from the psychological connection to the physiological.

So something that you definitely want to add now the most effective one, I've, I found this very interesting, but also not surprising. was respiratory muscle training, or RMT. It was the most effective. So it's a training regimen aimed at improving the strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles.

So RMT involves exercises that increase the resistance during breathing, thereby strengthening the muscles involved. And respiration for athletes, it directly targets respiratory muscle performance leading to improved exercise capacity and endurance, especially beneficial in sports demanding high aerobic capacity.

So I think this is so interesting. So if you've seen one of those elevation training mass. Now, people crapped all over those things. If you like, remember when they first came out like 10 plus years ago, like I said, people just crapped all over the elevation training mask. And I think that was because due to their marketing or maybe what it's called the elevation training mask.

And this is not a plug for their product at all. There are a lot of different things that you can use and I'll mention another one. But I think that the people thought that the elevation training mask was saying, Hey, you're training at altitude. And that's just not true because training at altitude can actually give you more red blood cells and help your body produce more oxygen.

Now, I don't remember their marketing from 10, 15 years ago when they first came out, but I think that it was in that direction, or at least that's how, what people thought they thought that they were claiming. Using the Elevation Training Mask could get you more red blood cells and it'd be like you're training up in the top of a mountain in Colorado, but that's not what it's doing.

What it's doing is it's providing resistance during breathing thereby strengthening muscles involved in respiration. That's what RMT is. That's what an Elevation Training Mask does. Another one out there is the O2 Trainer. If you've seen that one, again, I don't have any connection with these companies.

It's just, they're ones that I'm familiar with. The O2 trainer, I actually have one sitting on my desk. So the O2 trainer, it looks like a little like scuba piece that you put in your mouth. And then it has 15 different resistance knobs that you can put on the end. So making it like more or less difficult to inhale and exhale.

And this is the same concept, right? It's making it harder to inhale and exhale. Forcefully inhale and you're having to forcefully exhale. And when you do that, it gives you stronger lungs. It gives you stronger lungs. And it makes sense to me because you're actually exercising a muscle, the diaphragm, like you're actually exercising your lungs.

You're actually doing all the muscles involved with breathing. You're actually making stronger. And I'm sure that some of this happens when you just exercise on a regular basis, if you're breathing. In and out, when you exercise, like I'm sure that there's some improvement over, of the strength of your respiratory muscles just in performing exercise, but if you want to specifically train it and get better, RMT seems to be very proven and very effective for what we want, for athletic performance in a breathing exercise that we actually want to include.

Going through that list, alright, so just one more time, from least effective to most effective, nasal dilators, probably leave those at home, don't worry about it. Nasal breathing. Again, I like it, but it, right now, the literature is just not there. And I was surprised by that one. And then there's Buteyko breathing, again, a method that emphasizes nasal breathing and controlled breath holding, which a lot of these seem very similar to me, but that one was third on the list.

Diet, you want vitamin D, omega 3 probiotics, systematized breathing strategies, doesn't seem that different to me from Buteyko, but maybe it is, but it's just slow, deep breathing. And then there's the psychological aspects of breathing, which is more slow, specifically slow breathing. And then the last one, RMT, so respiratory muscle training.

That's what you want to go through. And again, I'm not hitting on the anxiety, relief, and all that other stuff. There are, anything you're doing breathing wise can help in so many different ways. My ultimate takeaway for any athlete listening to this, Absolutely involves some sort of breath work, breathing technique into your everyday routine.

A great way to do this, I mentioned it earlier, I've added this to warm ups and cool downs. Three to five minutes, just do a quick breathing exercise. You can use an app, like I mentioned, Breathwork is one that I use. It's in the Apple App Store for sure. And then I use it for a cool down process as well.

And again, I'm not 100 percent consistent on this, but it's something that I do periodically. Now I mentioned I have the O2 Trainer on my desk. Again, I'm not trying to plug a specific product because I get any kickback or have any affiliation. I just actually bought this before I even read this study because I was intrigued by that idea of actually training my respiratory muscles.

As I'm doing all this zone 2 training, I tried a lot of nasal breathing and I was like, it doesn't seem to be helping. And then I went down this rabbit hole of like more research on breathing and I landed on the O2 trainer. I don't have a lot to say about it yet. I can't vouch for it. I haven't seen a lot of progress, but I also haven't been super consistent with it like every day for multiple months or anything like that.

So I don't, I can't vouch for the product, but it's one that I'm trying out right now and I'm interested to see if it does help with my running efficiency or. lung function overall, how I feel, all those kinds of things. All that to say, if you want to get into breath work, you absolutely should. If you want to start with the most effective thing, start with some sort of RMT.

You can also Google RMT. There's a lot of different options out there. A lot of different ones you could buy and try out fairly inexpensive. And very effective. Other than that, do implement some sort of breathing strategy. That's just my two cents on it at this time. Really cool study. Really excited to dive into this one and provide more information to garage gym athletes out there.

Now, everyone who's doing our training, really appreciate you listening. Sticking around, just thank you from the bottom of my heart as we start to close out the end of this year and we're rolling into another year and a lot of new things will be going on at garagegymathlete. com. So make sure you are listening to the podcast as we announce those things.

If you're in the community, we'll make sure we put them in there. But there is a lot, and I'm not trying to be vague, but we've been working on a lot of things for the last several months. I've been trying to keep it under wraps because I don't want to I don't want to announce things too early and then not be able to give people a poor experience because we weren't 100 percent ready.

But things are coming, so make sure you go to Garage Gym Athlete to check that out. If you are just like poking around here, you don't know anything about me, our training, go to garagegymathlete. com, dive into a lot of what we do, look at our programming. You can sign up for a free trial, test us out, see what you think about the efficacy of our programming because I really feel like it's the best programming on the internet.

So you can go do that at garagegymathlete. com. But that's it for this one. Remember, if you don't kill comfort will kill you.

Like these ideas? You need GGA. 

Garage Gym Athlete is the "tip of the spear" for our training. We identify training weaknesses, solve them through our program design, and validate it with science. 

For ongoing daily training that exploits everything we have discusses here and more, check out Garage Gym Athlete.  

Start FREE Trial